Two experiments investigate the influence of verb aspect on situation representations. The results demonstrate that comprehenders use verb aspect as a cue to regulate the activation of ongoing simulations of situations over time. Experiment 1 measured word-by-word reading as well as sensibility judgements on sentences in which a target object word had been replaced by a picture. For the past imperfective sentences, participants were faster to process the picture, the two words following the picture, and the sensibility judgements when objects were pictured in use rather than not in use. However, this in-use facilitation was limited to processing of the picture for the past perfect sentences. Experiment 2 served as a control to ensure that the use effect and its interaction with verb aspect were a result of contextual manipulations rather than surface features of the pictures themselves. The results are interpreted within the framework of perceptual simulations during language comprehension.

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The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Department of Psychology

Madden, C., & Therriault, D. (2009). Verb aspect and perceptual simulations. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 62(7), 1294–1303. doi:10.1080/17470210802696088